Kanesatake artist contributes to skateboard project

 By Marcus Bankuti

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

When shortly after enrolling in the Ratiwennenha:wi Adult Immersion Program, Adrienne Katsi’tsi:io Gareau saw the callout for a skateboard art contest, it reminded her of the same reasons she committed herself to Kanien’keha immersion in the first place.


“I thought it was the perfect way to start my journey of learning our language, showcasing the beauty of our culture, as well as an incredible opportunity to give back to our community,” said Gareau, who mentioned that she’d always wanted to design art for a skateboard.


“I’ve always been nervous about sharing my artwork, so I was incredibly grateful and excited to hear that my design was selected,” she added.


The initiative, spearheaded by the Kanien’keha:ka Onkwawen:na Raotitiohkwa Language and Cultural Center (KOR) in Kahnawake, is in its second year platforming artists from five different reserves by publishing their work on skateboards.


In Kanesatake, the Tsi Ronterihwanonhnha ne Kanien’keha Language and Culture Center, which also manages the immersion program, heads up the search for a winner.


“We were looking for something that was Native, had some inspiration that would look nice on a board, bright colours, anything that would make our board a little bit more unique within the entire collection,” said Miranda Gabriel, the cultural development officer at the centre.


All the proceeds from the skateboards in Kanesatake go to support the centre. There are 50 boards available, and they go for $90 apiece.


Kanesatake also participated last year, when Jasmin Gunn created the design that represented the community.


“We love promoting our artists and other Native artists,”  said Gabriel. “We think it’s a good way to do that. We wanted to be part of the project with the collaboration of all of the other different Mohawk reserves, and it would be a nice, different fundraiser for the culture centre.”


Gareau, who has a degree in graphic design, has been finding her way back to art in recent years. She is especially passionate about creating art for kids, even hoping to one day illustrate children’s books written in Kanien’keha.


Her skateboard design was also informed by thoughts of benefitting local young people through the promotion of Kanien’keha:ka culture.


“I am inspired by our stories, and I’ve had this idea based on the Creation story in my mind for quite some time,” said Gareau.

“I felt the duality of Tharonhiawa:kon and Shawiskara could create a bold image that would be perfect as skateboard art, something our Kanien’keha youth would be proud to show off.”


Gareau feels the final product turned out even better than she had imagined.


“I am very proud to be a part of this project and to have my design alongside some very talented Kanien’keha:ka artists,” she said.

  Marcus Bankuti is aa  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE EASTERN DOOR. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.

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